Changing Attitudes About Moms Who Breastfeed In Public
Emily Gillette was kicked off a Delta Connections flight in 2006 because she wouldn’t cover-up with a blanket while nursing her one-year-old daughter.
Gillette had been setting in the window seat wither her husband next to her in the aisle seat. A flight attendant gave her a blanket, which Gillette declined. Nursing Mom was then escorted off the plane, sparking “nurse-ins” at Delta counters through the country.
The Santa Fe, New Mexico resident filed a complaint with Vermont’s Human Rights Commission. Gillette also filed a lawsuit for unspecified compensatory, and punitive, damages.
Now the suit is over, the settlement amount redacted from the agreement and Freedom Airlines apologized. Delta chose not to include a statement in the settlement but did say it supports a mother’s right to breastfeed on its aircraft.
Gillette’s case wasn’t the only time a nursing mom has been called out, but in a Starbuck’s incident it paid off with free coffee.
Julia was visiting New York City when she stopped by a Starbucks to grab a badly needed break from doing the tourist thing. When her five-month old son started whining, she fed him at the counter.
With the temperature hoving in the high 90s, she had no intention of covering up. Another cafe customer, a middle-aged woman, complained, loudly, that breastfeeding in public was ‘disgusting’ and told the barista to deal with the situation.
The barista smiled, fixed a Ultra Caramel Frappuccino and took it to the young mother. He also handed her a voucher for a free drink during her next visit.
Even Idaho Has Changed
American moms have the right to breastfeed wherever and whenever their baby is hungry. Until this year, Idaho was the only state with no breastfeeding protections. Now that has changed.
All 50 states have laws protecting a mother’s right to breastfeed in public.
The American Academy of Pediatrics encourages women to breastfeed and is working to raise the breastfeeding rates in America. A growing body of evidence shows breastfeeding provides optimal nutritional and immune system benefits including reduced risk for asthma, obesity, type 2 diabetes and sudden infant death syndrome.
Attitudes like that of Delta and the middle-aged woman in the New York starbucks are changing. But many persons still don’t understand the rights mothers have to feed their infants in public.
What Can A Mom Do?
What can a mother do if approached by someone who discourages her from public nursing?
“Remember the law protects your right to feed your baby,” says Dan Vangorodska. “Moms can breastfeed at bus stops, restaurants, the public pool and anywhere else they need to.”
As Emily’s story shows, existence of legal rights, like those provided by Vermont, don’t guarantee societal support.